How to Smoke on a Gas Grill: Best Technique & Grill Setup

Rate this post

If you want to start smoking meals but only have a gas grill, don’t worry, you can still do it.

Is smoking on a gas barbecue simple? Yes, in a nutshell, but if you want to prepare a lot of barbecue, we suggest investing in a specialized smoker.

Gas grills are not intended for smoking meat. Heat and smoke may readily escape via the spaces surrounding the lid and burners. While you may prepare a tasty dinner, it will not be the same as food grilled on a smoker.

However, if all you have is a gas grill, don’t give up on wonderful barbeque. If you follow the instructions in this article, you’ll be stunning your family and friends in no time.

Create a two-zone indirect heat setup

How to Smoke on a Gas Grill: Grill Setup & Best Technique

Before we go into the step-by-step directions for smoking on a gas barbecue, let’s go over some fundamentals.

The capacity to manage your temperature for an extended length of time is the key to your smoking success (regardless of the sort of grill you use).

You don’t want to raise the temperature over 300°F or expose your meat to direct flame.

That entails constructing a two-zone indirect arrangement for a gas barbecue. As the name implies, the grill will have a hot zone and a cold zone.

To do this, turn on at least one burner to provide heat while your food cooks on the other side using the ambient temperature in the cooking chamber.

In the example below, the burner on the left is turned on, causing heat and smoke to be produced. The pork ribs are not exposed to any heat, allowing them to gently smoke and tenderize without burning.

A water pan is optional but serves two purposes:

  1. The water functions as a heat sink, keeping the interior grill temperature stable.
  2. Throughout the cooking process, humidity is added to the cooking chamber.

The water pan, as Meathead explains on, absorbs heat and helps to keep temperatures consistent within your barbecue.

Don’t worry, your meat will not be steamed! Because it isn’t hot enough to boil, it mostly serves as a temperature regulator.

Meathead Goldwyn, The Best Setups for Gas Grills

The water absorbs heat and helps to keep temperature swings to a minimum. Moisture also combines with the smoke and propane combustion gases to produce tastes that smoke alone cannot provide.

But keep in mind that you are not heating the meat! Steam may turn meat mushy and lose taste. If you maintain the oven temperature at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, the water should not boil because the surface area will enable evaporation, which will cool the water and keep it below 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s difficult to believe, but it’s true. You are running hot if the water is boiling. Reduce the volume.

Gas grill burner configuration for low and slow

How to Smoke on a Gas Grill: Grill Setup & Best Technique

If you have a two-burner grill, you can clearly only use one of them at a time. If you have additional burners, you have more possibilities for achieving the desired temperature.

If you have a four-burner grill, try the following configurations:

Setup 1 On Off Off Off
Setup 2 On Off Off On
Setup 3 On On Off Off

The aim is to play about with the heat settings and the number of burners while monitoring the ambient air temperature on the opposite side where your meal will be sitting. Once you’ve discovered a setting that can maintain a constant temperature between 225 and 250F, you may return to it time and time again.

It is important to remember that there are more elements to consider. Your grill will behave differently in the summer than it would in the winter, whether it is windy or pouring outdoors.

To summarize, you must experiment with your grill and test several alternatives before you can grasp how to maintain your ideal cooking temperature.

Monitoring grill temperature

The built-in thermometers on propane grills are adequate in a hurry, but they are not always as precise as you need, particularly when smoking and attempting to maintain a consistent temperature.

It may surprise you to learn that they are often inaccurate by up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit! That’s not very helpful when we’re attempting to keep a consistent low temperature for grilling.

We suggest utilizing a high-quality digital thermometer, such as the Thermoworks Smoke, to make temperature monitoring easy. A dual probe gadget, such as the Smoke, enables you to monitor the temperature of your meat as well as the temperature of your grill on the same instrument.

If your thermometer includes a probe clip, just place it on the grill grate near the food to determine the exact temperature you’re cooking at.

If you don’t have a probe clip, roll up some aluminum foil and thread the probe through it before placing it on the grill grate. This prevents your probe from falling through the grating.

How to make smoke on a propane grill

So far, we’ve discussed how to set up your propane grill for smoking, but how do you really make smoke?

You’ll need to use wood pieces, chips, or pellets to burn within your grill for smoke flavor.

While some high-end gas barbecues have a built-in smoker box, the majority of us will want another choice. Fortunately, there are several cool accessories available to help you convert your barbecue into a smoker.

Some choices need a low-cost accessory, but we also provide a DIY method that does not require any equipment.

The majority of grills include a flavorizer or barrier that rests on top of the burner. Simply lay a piece of wood on top of this barrier, and it will smolder and smoke away. If it catches fire, you may still use pellets or chips.

Pellets and chips cannot simply be put on top of a burner since they need oxygen to smoke. You may achieve this using a variety of accessories.

1. Create smoke with a pellet tube

My personal favorite method for producing smoke is using a pellet tube.

Fill this bad boy with smoking pellets, ignite one end with a lighter or blowtorch, and place it on the grill grate for up to 4 hours of cooking time. That’s a lot less work than changing wood chips every 30 minutes.

I like how the smoke production is consistent and simple to clean up.

Because these tubes produce so much smoke, committed smokers often use them to acquire a bit more smoke. They come in various sizes depending on how long you want to smoke for, but the 12 is an excellent choice for most applications.

To see this approach in action, see our instruction on how to smoke ribs on a gas barbecue.

If you want to utilize wood chips, another popular alternative is the basic Smoker Box, which is a stainless steel box that you can fill with wood chips and set right over the burner.

Smoker boxes use dry wood chips rather than wet wood chips, resulting in a more natural and even smoke.

People soak wood chips for DIY smoker packs to prevent them from catching fire and emitting foul smoke, but a smoker box lacks holes in the bottom, preventing appropriate oxygen flow for ignition and allowing the chips to smolder persistently in the box.

2. Make a aluminum foil pouch

If you don’t want to spend money on a pellet tube or smoker box, there are a few of inexpensive alternatives that you probably already have in your kitchen cabinets.

You may build a bag out of high strength aluminum foil and fill it with either pellets or wood chips, then poke holes in it to enable oxygen to flow in and out. Similarly, put wood chips or pellets in a disposable aluminum pan and lay it on top of your stove.

This is debatable, but you should soak your chips for 30 minutes before cooking to prevent them from catching fire. After 15 to 20 minutes, they will begin to smoke on the burner.

3. Place hard wood chunks directly on the burner

This is about as straightforward as it gets. Set a piece of hardwood directly over the stove and let it smoke.

The positioning may be hard since you don’t want it to come into direct contact with the flame, which would cause complete ignition, but if it’s not near enough, it won’t burn.

To create nice, consistent smoke, cover the bottom with heavy strength aluminum foil and place it closer to the burner flame, but make sure the piece doesn’t reach full flame, which would overheat the cooking chamber and cause damage.

How to smoke on a gas grill: step by step instructions

It is not difficult to prepare your gas barbecue for smoking. I suggest having everything ready ahead of time and cooking something easy like chicken wings, ribs, or pulled pork the first time you do this so you can concentrate on nailing your grill setup.

Prepare your meal and any sauces or rubs, and have your smoking wood or pellets ready. Finally, ensure sure you have a sufficient quantity of propane. Nothing worse than running out of cigarettes midway through a 6-hour smoke.

For shorter cooking durations, such as ribs or chicken, have at least half a tank of propane on hand. For lengthier cooking, such as brisket or pig butt, having at least one full tank is strongly advised, if not having additional on ready just in case.

Step 1: Light your propane burner to medium heat

Turn on the far left burner of your grill and turn it to medium heat. Insert the digital thermometer now and shut the lid. Keep an eye on the temperature until you achieve your ideal cooking range, which is usually between 225F and 250F.

Allow your grill to preheat and reach the correct temperature. Turn your dial down if you fast exceed your intended temperature. If you are still at 180F after 20 minutes, bump up your dial-up. If you’re having trouble getting your grill to 225F 250F, try turning on extra burners if you have them.

This may seem difficult at first, but after experimenting with your grill, you will know where you need to be to cook at your desired temperature.

Step 2: Add your wood

After your grill has been warmed, it is time to add your wood. To get access to insert your wood, remove the grill grates with a set of heavy tongs or a pair of high heat gloves.

Directly above your burner, place pellets. Place a piece of hardwood, a tinfoil bag, or a tray of wood chips in the center.

If using a pellet tube, fill it with pellets and fire one end with a lighter or blowtorch before placing it on your grill grate.

When you notice wisps of smoke, it’s time to move your meal away from the heat of the grill.

Step 3: Get smokin!

Close your cover and place your meat on the other side of your grill, away from your lighted burner. Keep an eye on the temperature and adjust the dial appropriately.

Depending on what you’re cooking, you may need to add extra wood before the meat is done, particularly if you’re using chips. Check in on a regular basis as more are added as needed.

These ribs were smoked on a Weber grill, and although they didn’t have the same smokey taste as a specialized smoker, they were still fantastic.

Tips for smoking on a gas grill

1. Don’t over smoke

One word of warning if this is your first time smoking meat: don’t use too much wood. It may be tempting to use half a bag of wood chips, but believe me when I say that over-smoked meat is the worst. You’re better off starting with a half cup of wood chips or pellets, or a single little bit of hardwood.

After you’ve cooked your dinner, you may choose whether or not to add extra smoke flavor. If you believe your meat might have been a bit smokier, add a little more wood the next time. I can tell you that the meal you make the first time will still be delicious.

2. Use the right type of wood

When cooking with wood, keep the different kinds of wood in mind. The same is true when smoking on a gas barbecue.

You’ll want to experiment with various sorts of wood depending on what you’re cooking, whether you’re using pellets, chips, or pieces.

While the importance of matching the wood type with certain types of meat is overexaggerated, there are some good principles to keep in mind.

Use our finest woods for smoking guide to help you narrow down your options.

3. Plan how much space you will need

Keep in mind that you will have much less grill surface to deal with than you are accustomed to.

You may be restricted to 50% or less of your entire grill surface depending on the size of your grill and the number of burners.

Final thoughts

You have no reason not to go prepare some wonderful barbeque now that you know how to set up your gas grill for smoking.

If you need some ideas on what to smoke, try our tried-and-true 3-2-1 BBQ pig ribs or Pulled pig.

When you’re ready to take your smoking to the next level with a dedicated smoker, check out our guide on the best beginner smokers to get started.


What is the best way to smoke on a grill?

The key to smoking is maintaining a consistent temperature. Most smokers like temperatures ranging from 225°F to 250°F. Place a meat thermometer in the top vent of your grill, allowing the probe to dangle down and measure the temperature of the air within the grill.

What temperature is a gas grill smoking?

Using a Gas Grill to Smoke

For hot smoking, we want to maintain our grill at temperatures ranging from 180°F to 275°F. This implies you’re cooking while adding smoke flavor to your dish. If you’re using a gas grill, this works for a variety of meats and vegetables.

Can you smoke meat on a propane grill?

A gas grill is an excellent method to impart a range of wood barbecue flavors to almost anything you can cook.Yes, it is possible to smoke food on a gas barbecue. A propane heater provides regulated and uniform heat as well as a consistent fuel supply.

How do you smoke on a gas grill without a smoker box?

Fill a foil pan halfway with drained wood chips, cover with aluminum foil, then poke holes in the foil to enable smoke to escape. Place the pan directly on the bars, ideally in a rear corner, over an unlit burner or two. Install the cooking grate. Close the cover of the grill and turn all of the burners to high.

What foods are best to smoke on gas grill?

On a gas grill, you can smoke anything from a pig butt to a salmon filet. Fish, chicken breasts, and thin-cut pork chops are excellent options for smoking. Try a beef brisket if you’re looking for a bigger chunk of meat and a lengthier time commitment.

Why is my grill smoking so bad?

Buildup of grease or food residue

Grease or food accumulation is the most typical cause of undesirable smoke emanating from your barbecue. Fortunately, the remedy is simple—though it may not be the one you want to hear: clean your grill.

Do gas grills give good smoke flavor?

To be honest, the gas grill is not perfect for smoking. Unlike smokers, which are meant to create a profoundly smoked taste by burning wood for extended periods of time, or charcoal grills, which enable the use of large hardwood pieces to shroud food in vapors, gas does not offer the charred flavor.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *